Here are 7 bold September predictions

September 1st, 2019

We have seen the future, and it is, well, September. Labor Day is the beginning of a transition time for baseball fans. The dog days of August are over, the weather is about to get cooler and the final leg of the postseason push begins.

To celebrate this most American of holidays, we offer seven occasionally bold predictions for September:

1) The Yankees are going to get their season-long pitching problems fixed, and that will make them a scary good postseason team.
We’ve seen it already in James Paxton pitching his best baseball of the season, which might be enough right there. Domingo German, Masahiro Tanaka and Paxton had a 3.57 ERA in 16 August starts and might form a quality postseason rotation. Luis Severino still has a chance to contribute. Given the depth of the Yankees bullpen and the power of the offense, they have a chance to finish September with a boatload of optimism about the postseason.

2) Prepare for a turnover of NL managers.
Big changes are on the way, and not just with the Giants, Cubs and Marlins, where Bruce Bochy has announced his retirement and Joe Maddon and Don Mattingly haven’t had their contracts extended. Beyond those three, the Phillies (Gabe Kapler), Pirates (Clint Hurdle), Mets (Mickey Callaway) and perhaps even the Padres (Andy Green) would surprise no one by making a change.

3) You wrote off the Red Sox weeks ago, didn’t you? You’re about to be surprised.
Will they make the playoffs? No, they won’t. But they’re still good enough to make things interesting and to get Red Sox Nation invested in a miracle finish. Alas, losing 12 of 16 shortly after the All-Star break will end up costing the Red Sox a chance to defend their championship.

4) Postseason berths will not be settled in 162 games.
You probably thought nothing could be better than last season when the Cubs and Brewers had to settle the thing with a one-game playoff. Let’s do that again, this time with two of baseball’s oldest and most bitter rivals -- Cardinals and Cubs -- playing a winner-take-all 163rd game. Even better, these two teams play one another seven times in the final 11 days of the season. As for the AL, with the Rays, Indians and A’s fighting for a spot, and the Red Sox surging, don’t get us started. This is going to be fun.

5) Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole will not separate themselves in the AL Cy Young Award race.
Actually, that happened in 1969 when Mike Cuellar and Denny McLain got 10 votes apiece. After they shared the AL Cy Young Award, the entire voting procedure was changed for each ballot to include three names. There has been no tie since, but there hasn’t been a race in which the two frontrunners are as closely matched as these two.

6) If four-hour games are your thing, you’re going to love watching the Brewers and Rays in September.
The MLB record for most pitchers used in a game is 24, and you might want to commit that number to memory because the Brewers and Rays are going to stock their rosters with extra pitching in an attempt to offset their problems in that area. This being the last year of unlimited September callups, both are going to summon every available pitcher and get through games with numbers. If that means playing games out by out beginning in the first inning, so be it.

7) Never mind those late starts. Blue Jays will finish second and third in AL Rookie of the Year voting.
Since Bo Bichette made his debut on July 29th, he’s first in the AL in total bases, second in hits and 10th in OPS and home runs. Because Bichette entered the weekend having played just 28 games, some have written him off in the AL Rookie of the Year balloting. That’s a mistake. The Rookie of the Year Award is evaluated unlike others because so many players make their debut long after Opening Day. The AL frontrunner, Yordan Alvarez, only made his debut on June 9. Bichette may not catch Alvarez, but don’t bet against him and his teammate, Vladimir Guerrero Jr., finishing second and third.